Program opposing 'common core' slated for Thursday in Quincy

Posted: Aug. 12, 2013 9:07 am Updated: Sep. 2, 2013 2:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The "common core" educational standards adopted by 46 states, including Illinois and Missouri, will come under fire by opponents at a public meeting Thursday night in Quincy.

The session, dubbed "Confronting Common Core," will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Salvation Army's Kroc Center, Fourth and Vermont. The session is free and open to the public.

The session is being promoted by, an organization fighting the introduction of common core state standards in Illinois schools.

The common core state standards lay out a detailed set of skills students are expected to achieve in various subjects at various grade levels. The goal is to establish a "common core of knowledge" that all students across the nation will have upon graduation so they can be successful as they proceed on to college, careers or the military.

However, some individuals and groups don't like the way the standards were developed and take issue with how they will be carried out. One opponent is Gretchen Logue, a co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. She is one of three people scheduled to speak at the Kroc Center event.

Logue has been fighting the common core for about three years through her blog at Missouri Education Watchdog. She also was involved in an unsuccessful effort last year to get the Missouri Legislature to toss out the controversial standards.

"It got nixed at the 11th hour," Logue told The Quincy Herald-Whig. "There was a lot of political wrangling about some other issues. But we are going to be presenting several bills this year to try to get rid of this."

Logue says the common core standards were foisted upon the American public without a vote by Congress.

"Common core never had a vote. It's (funded with) stimulus money. Congress just basically gave the Department of Education $4 billion and said, ‘Here, do whatever you want in education.' So they never voted specifically on what that reform should look like."

Logue said the common core standards were essentially "crafted by two private organizations" -- the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.

"Those are private organizations funded by the federal government," Logue said.

She said many states adopted the standards in an effort to get a waiver from adhering to the much-maligned "No Child Left Behind" standards. Many educators regard the NCLB standards as unreasonable because they progressively require more children each year to pass standardized tests -- to the point that 100 percent of all students eventually must pass or a school is considered to be failing.

Logue describes NCLB as "a pipe dream" because of these unrealistic expectations, but she feels common core is worse.

"Common core has been described as No Child Left Behind on steroids," she said.

Logue doesn't like the idea that states must adopt curriculums aligned to the federal standards. "So you're not really free to use any kind of curriculum you want to use," she said.

She would prefer to see states have more control to use curriculums they feel are best suited for children -- rather than one that meets a "common" standard. She feels the common core approach doesn't provide enough leeway to suit individualized needs.

"This is going to be really bad for kids who aren't ‘common,'?" Logue said. "If you fit in that box, maybe you'll be able to do OK. But if you're gifted or you have any special education needs, this is deadly to them."

Logue also expressed concern about a "data retrieval" aspect of the common core.

"Up until now, the data gathered on children was pretty innocuous. It was educational data, test results -- that sort of thing -- and it was done in aggregate form, so children were not identified," she said "The idea with common core is they will track children with their individualized data, and they're going to be evaluating teachers based on student data."

She finds it troubling that "they're going to track your kid from preschool up and through the work force. They will have a dossier on how your child is doing on (his or her) assessments."

Logue also is concerned that educational consortiums guiding states in their use of assessments of the common core are being funded by the federal government only through September 2014 --"at which time the funding stops, and I guess the states and the schools districts are going to have to pick up the rest," she said. "We don't feel that that's been shared with taxpayers and legislators."